Life is good. We have not been without our challenges (I am taking Hebrew, which has been harder than Greek was for me, and all four of us got sick at different times over the Christmas break), but overall we are very blessed. For one, it's my birthday today and thanks to the support of friends and family (some of whom are babysitting for us), Stacye and I are going on a date tonight! :-)
And then it's back to work, and the main reason we came to St. Louis in the first place... We begin the home stretch of the winter quarter tomorrow, and I have begun to get more involved in our field work congregation, St. John in Ellisville, MO.
I have been asked and accepted the invitation to serve as the "Traditions Venue Leader," beginning in part this year and then in full next year and beyond. Traditions is St. John's Saturday evening service, and is a bit more...well...traditional in its worship style than the Sunday Praise (blended and contemporary) or Warehouse (very contemporary) services. As the venue leader, I will have the responsibility to lead worship and/or preach most weekends at that particular service.
There are typically about 125-150 souls who regularly attend the Saturday evening service each weekend; a fraction of the 2,300 who attend St. John's eight weekly services, but not much smaller than the average-sized 200-member church in America. I am humbled they have asked me to serve, and am excited and grateful to have the opportunity to gain so much practical leadership experience so quickly in this "church within a church."
I also taught bible study at St. John for the first time today; Romans, chapters 7-8...a theologically loaded section of the Bible that is "shallow enough for a child to wade in, and deep enough for theologian to drown." I think the "youngest Christian" among those in attendance at the class this morning has been a follower of Christ for longer than I have been alive, and the eldest has been a Christian for nearly 90 years! I estimate there was over 500 years of collective Christian life experience in that room today, not including myself. And I was supposed to teach them something! Humbling to say the least.
We really enjoyed our time spent together in God's Word today. What wonderful saints they are. Praise God for their years of commitment and faithful service to the Lord; our church would not be here today were it not for the sacrifices they've been making for the better part of the last 100 years.
I thought I would close my note to you today with some pictures I took of Hannah yesterday afternoon. When we came back from running some errands we noticed a bunch of old fall leaves that had piled up in front of our apartment. Who could resist!? A 3 1/2 year old girl with some energy to burn and her silly daddy with a camera in hand certainly couldn't, that's for sure. So enjoy...here's Hannah romping around in some St. Louis leaves.
(our closing comments follow the pictures)
We love you. We encourage you to allow God to bless you in a special way today. He loves you so much.
-Don (& the Ray ladies)